Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wacky Stories

Wacky Stories
Julie Harper
The author put together 10 silly stories to entertain children and interest reluctant readers. Each story has an element about it that is out of place. At the end of each story are reader questions so the children can review what they've just read. There is also space for the reader to make up another story or change elements of the current story.

My 8 year old read the book to my 6 year old. The older one thought the book was a bit boring, but said it might be better if I'd read it using different voices. The 6 year old said it was funny and seemed to really enjoy the silliness. The vocabulary is simple enough that I think the 6 yr old will be able to read it herself soon. There are a couple of black and white pictures at the beginning of each chapter, but the book focuses mainly on the stories.

I received this book free of charge from Goodreads in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Joy of Reading

6 Ways Reading Brings Joy To Our Lives
A Good Book Can Transport Us To Other Worlds, Or Reveal More About This One, Author Says

The options for latching onto a great book – whether a classic by Victor Hugo or the latest bestseller by John Grisham – appear limitless these days.
Printed books remain popular, but e-readers provide additional choices. We can still visit bookstores and libraries, but a seemingly infinite selection of titles is available for ordering online.
And, despite periodic worries about the reading habits of the young, a Pew Research Center study released last year showed that young adults, ages 18-29, were the group most likely to have read a book in the previous 12 months.
It’s not surprising people are still eager to lose themselves in a richly plotted novel, a well-researched biography or any title on a favorite topic, says Darlene Quinn, an author whose latest novel, “Conflicting Webs” (www.darlenequinn.net) is the fifth in her standalone Webs Series, which features stories steeped in family issues in today's rapidly paced world.
“Reading is beneficial for everyone, whether we do it for entertainment, to pass the time or to learn,” Quinn says. “We can grow and change from the first page to the last page, and anywhere in between. A love for reading can open a lot of doors.”
Quinn, a lifelong lover of books, suggests six ways reading brings joy to our lives:
•  Relaxation factor. After a busy day, down time with a book can be a rewarding way to segue into bedtime. “Putting up your feet with a cup of tea and a timeless story can make the stress melt away,” Quinn says. “What better way to unwind?” The beauty of ending the day with a good book is that you can still have mental stimulation even as you seek a distraction from personal issues, work concerns and the unexpected complications of life.
•  Universal appeal, personal experience. People can read the same book, yet come away with an experience that is distinct for them, Quinn says. That puts her in agreement with Edmund Wilson, the American literary and social critic, who observed that “no two persons ever read the same book.”  Quinn says we often alter what is written – or at least our interpretations of it – to reflect our situations, personalities and opinions.
•  Tech savvy welcome, but not required. E-readers are popular these days and it’s not hard to understand why, Quinn says. They bring numerous benefits to the reading experience, such as the ability to instantly download new books or change the type size on the screen. But tried-and-true print versions of books remain strong and it’s nice to be able to grab a book without charging its battery or bringing along a power cord, Quinn says. “And as far as I’m concerned, you just can’t beat the intoxicating aroma of fresh book pages,” she says.
•  To infinity and beyond. Trains, planes and automobiles all have limits on where they can take us. Books don’t. A science fiction novel can whisk us away to an alternate universe. A historical novel can plunk us down in the middle of the Salem witch trials. In the movie “Toy Story,” Buzz Lightyear’s catchphrase was “to infinity and beyond.” That aptly describes the reach of books and the power they have to transport us. “Right in our hands we have the passageway to a new world, a new language or a new understanding,” Quinn says. “We can be anywhere and we can be there at any time.”
•  Lessons within the pages. The opportunity to expand our creativity and knowledge is what reading is all about, Quinn says. Name a topic and a book exists that can help you learn more about it. The options are numerous – music, history, art, geography, exploration, science, nature, religion and more. “My goal has always been to be a lifelong learner and books are a fantastic asset for achieving that,” Quinn says.
John Green, author of such works as “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Paper Towns,” has said, “Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood.” Quinn says that might be the best reason of all to read.
“The feeling that someone else knows our struggles and relates to our lives can give us a sense of completeness, and help us realize we aren’t the only ones who feel or think the way we do,” she says.
“Reading can make us happy when we are sad. It can make us laugh when we are depressed. And it can excite us when we are disheartened. Those are great accomplishments for such a simple activity.”
About Darlene Quinn
Darlene Quinn (www.darlenequinn.net) is an author and journalist from Long Beach, Calif., whose novels about deceit, intrigue and glamour in the retail fashion industry were inspired by her years working in management with Bullocks Wilshire Specialty department stores. Quinn’s novels are steeped in family issues in today’s rapidly paced world. Her latest is “Conflicting Webs,” the fifth book in her epic Web series. Previous titles in the standalone series have been “Webs of Fate,” “Webs of Power,” “Twisted Webs” and “Unpredictable Webs.”

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Forest Adventure

Make-Your-Own-Sound Book
Forest Adventure
Flowerpot Press
Amuse your friends as you hoot like an owl or growl like a bear. But what sound does a forest ranger make? Each page has bright, colorful animals and forest back grounds. The cut-outs are designed to engage the children as they participate in the story. Parents will enjoy interacting with their children and children will love

Join the animals of the forest as they hoot, growl, and smile, The forest can be a very noisy place. But what sound does the forest ranger make? Children or parents can make the faces and pretend to be forest animals as the story is being read. Bright and colorful art work fill the entire page. The stiff page of the board book aide in ease of handling when using the face cut outs. The large print and simple vocabulary fit well with the intended age group. The words also make it easy for a beginner reader to read to themselves. Parents will love the interactive style and children will enjoy the playful story. This book would work well for parents wanting to engage with their children, a school would benefit from having the book for story time, and it would make a wonderful gift for any child.

I received this book free of charge from Children's Lit in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Abandoned Planet

Abandoned Planet
Andre Govia
Abandoned places have always intrigued me. They give us a glimpse into the past while showing how quickly earth takes back her own. So as an amateur photographer I've enjoyed finding these places to shoot. But Mr. Govia takes this talent to a whole new level. He is truly an artist.

This is a huge book and my family and I have pored over it for hours already. It's definitely a book I will treasure and keep. The eye for spotting that perfect shot is evident in every photograph. The only complaint that I might have, is that I wish the photographs were labeled better. It would have been nice to have some location details. But overall, this was a top quality book that I absolutely love.

It Happened One Wedding

It Happened One Wedding
Julie James
Sidney is back in Chicago after a failed engagement in New York. She's glad to be back in her hometown and near her sister again. She still wants to get married, but she's going to be extremely careful from now on that she doesn't pick a player this time around. Sidney has just had a bad date in a local coffee shop when special agent Vaughn tries to hit on her. Sidney turns him down, only to realize moments later that this is the brother to her sister's new fiance. Now things are about to get complicated.

This book was a hard one to judge at first. On the surface it had a beautiful cover, romantic story, and semi-decent secondary characters. But mostly this story was about lots of lies, sex, shallow opinions, male posturing, and tons of details about boring jobs. I was unaware that this was book five in a series, but it felt like a stand-alone. Nothing grabbed me enough to make me want to read any of the other books. I've heard great things about the author and so I'm going to hope that this was just a fluke.

I received this book free of charge from Goodreads in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Doodles for Boys

Laugh-Out-Loud Doodles for Boys
Rob Elliott
Kids love jokes. The author has combined jokes and drawing to create a fun and entertaining book that will keep children occupied for hours. Each page has a joke, the answer, and a half drawn picture that goes with the joke. The instructions tell you what you can draw to finish the doodle. But creativity is also allowed.

I asked my son (8 yrs old) what he thought of the book after he'd been poring over it. These are his words - "Awesome! Best book of jokes I've ever read. The pictures are pretty funny, but I like the jokes the best. I like that I can draw in the book too."

This is a fun little book that will fit in a purse and can be used for those long doctor appointments or car rides. My son loves it and that makes it a 5 star in my book.

I received this book free of charge from Revell Reads in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Love Arrives in Pieces

Love Arrives in Pieces
Betsy St. Amant
Stella feels broken. A former beauty queen who was married for her looks and dumped for another woman is back home in her small town of Bayou Bend. She's an interior decorator without a job. So when her interfering mother gets her the job of helping the head contractor restore the local theater she reluctantly takes it. But the first meeting with the contractor is a disaster. He's Chase Taylor, the man who broke her and her sister's heart and then left town. She needs the job too bad to quit, but she's not sure she can work with the man who betrayed her family.

I enjoyed this book. The interaction between the characters was fun and sometimes light-hearted. But the author also had them dealing with some heavier issues, such as forgiveness, self-esteem, and healing. The book doesn't mention that it is part of a series, but I'm glad I'd read her first book since it shed some light on the relationships between some of the family members. There wasn't really a plot to the book. It revolves around the relationship of the two main characters. It's light on romance and heavy on dealing with the issues that both of them faced.

I received this book free of charge from Litfuse Publicity in Exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Love Thy Neighbor as Thy Selfie
Paul D. Parkinson
Unselfish is a collection of 99 stories that are all about the unselfishness of humanity. Each story is accompanied by at least one picture. The stories are submitted by various people who were inspired by the unselfishness of someone. They range from the love between a married couple to humanitarian acts of kindness. 

Each of the stories were inspiring and heartwarming. Since the stories are all so different it was a nice mix when reading. It was nice to pick the book up and read a couple of the stories when I had a few minutes. This book would be an excellent coffee table book or gift. I will be keeping this book and pulling it out to read parts in the future. My only complaint, a tiny one, would be that some of the pictures are unclear.

I received this book free of charge from Book Club Network in exchange for my honest review.


Private Justice Book 1
Irene Hannon
Moira accidentally hits a woman in the road on a dark and rainy night. A good Samaritan stops to help her as she sits in her wrecked car. She blacks out and when she wakes up there is no woman and no good Samaritan. The road is empty. So what happened? When the police treat her experience with skepticism she hires a private investigator. Neither of them realize the scope of what they've stumbled into until it's too late.

In true Hannon style you know who the "bad guy" is almost immediately. The author uses the story to build the romance between the couple and create suspense with the details. The details fit well with the story and didn't overwhelm the plot. I liked the two main characters and felt they fit well together. The author also created great secondary characters that help you look forward to reading the next book in the series. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more by this author in the future.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Wood's Edge

The Wood's Edge
The Pathfinders Book 1
Lori Benton
A split second decision changes the course for two different families. During a moment of weakness Reginald exchanges his dead child for a living one. Both mothers are sleeping and Reginald sees the other mother, a white woman raised Indian, lying there with her twin sons. One is dark like his father and one is fair like his mother. Reginald prays that his wife and the other mother won't notice the switch since the babies are so young. But Good Voice notices that her baby has been switched and connects the dots. Her husband, Stone Thrower, will want revenge for his missing son. Two families are hopelessly intertwined. Two brothers are missing each other.

This author is able to weave a plot so full of details and history that it makes the story come alive. Twists in the story keep the reader in suspense and make the plot richer. I have yet to read something by this author that doesn't reach in and touch my heart. The emotions of the characters are real and heartfelt. The history that the author mixes liberally with the fiction makes me feel like I'm a part of the time period. Sometimes, especially during the middle of the book, I felt a bit bogged down in the details. But I'm sure this won't be a problem for most people. The story ended well and I'm glad I read it.

I received this book free of charge from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

A Bride At Last

A Bride At Last
Unexpected Brides Book 3
Melissa Jagears
Kate, a school teacher, is shocked when two men show up to claim Anthony. Anthony's mother has passed away and asked Kate to care for her son upon her death. Silas has been abandoned multiple times in his life. Now that he knows he has a son, he refuses to abandon Anthony. Richard needs cash quickly, so he wants Anthony to turn to pickpocketing to net him some quick cash. How can Kate figure out who the true father is and who to trust? Anthony also needs to learn to trust adults after a rough childhood.

The characters are the draw for this intriguing book. The author was able to create individuals who were seriously flawed and make them lovable. They had strength and depth of character. The plot had several twists and turns that kept the story moving and the reader engaged. While this is book three in the series and previous characters are present, it can be read as a stand-alone. I enjoy this author's writing style and use of visual descriptions that place you into the story with the characters.
I received this book free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

Five Brides

Five Brides
Eva Marie Everson
Five roommates from completely different parts of the world and walks of life, fall in love with the same dress. But not one of these lovely women has a man to marry. This book follows the story of all five women as they wade through love in the 1950s. It's a beautiful story of love amidst hardships and uncertainty. Each woman must decide what direction she wants her life to take and if she is going to allow the past to dictate the future.

I really enjoyed this author's writing style. It was unique. Instead of telling each story separately, the author tells the stories together since the women first came together as roommates. The word pictures helped place me in the city during the 50s and feel like I was experiencing their life with them. The romances were sweet, but not the primary focus of the story. This was a character driven story and the characters had depth and were each unique. I will definitely be reading more by this author.

I received this book free of charge from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.

a friend in me

A Friend in Me
How to Be a Safe Haven for Other Women
Pamela Havey Lau
Young women long for the friendship and mentoring of older women. They want a sense of community that has been missing from our friendships. But older women have begun to distance themselves from the younger women. The author has written the book to encourage and inspire older women to form friendships and become mentors to the younger women in their lives.

I was anticipating a book with steps to creating lasting friendships with women who were not in my age group. But the book was more about the thoughts on WHY women should have friendships with people who can mentor them and encouraging older women to find someone to mentor. The stories interspersed throughout the book helped move the chapters along, but for me it wasn't as helpful as I'd hoped. There will be women who will benefit from thinking about the thoughts presented in this book so I do think it has a place, it just wasn't for me.

I received this book free of charge from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Doodle for Girls

Laugh-Out-Loud Doodles for Girls
Rob Elliott
Kids love jokes. The author has combined jokes and drawing to create a fun and entertaining book that will keep children occupied for hours. Each page has a joke, the answer, and a half drawn picture that goes with the joke. The instructions tell you what you can draw to finish the doodle. But creativity is also allowed.

My daughter (6 yrs old) giggled as she read through the entire book. Then she told me she "loved it" and sat down to draw. So it was definitely a hit. The book is small and will fit easily into a purse for those long doctor appointments or car rides when kids are easily bored. The illustrations and doodles that fill the book are just as hilarious as the jokes and add to the fun. Would definitely recommend this book for anyone with kids or someone looking for a great gift or stocking stuffer.

I received this book free of charge from Revell Reads in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Finding Zoe

Finding Zoe
A Deaf Woman's Story of Identity, Love, and Adoption
Brandi Rarus and Gail Harris
Brandi became deaf at six years old. Since she was born to hearing parents and spoke for the first six years of her life, she spent the rest of her growing up years trying to straddle the fence between the hearing community and the deaf community. This is her story and the story of how she found her daughter Zoe.

Written in an honest and sometimes raw voice, the authors tell the story of how Brandi struggled and finally grew to accept her deafness as a blessing from God. Readers will learn more about the deaf community, its history, and the changes that have happened in the past few years to make living as a deaf person in a hearing world easier.

I enjoyed the style of writing and the story like feel of the book. But what I really appreciated was the glimpse into a culture that is so different from my own. This is a book that deals with adoption, becoming deaf, the deaf community and it's history, fighting for the rights of the minorities, and dealing with conflicts in life. I feel like I'm more educated having read it and it gave me several thoughts to ponder.

I received this book free of charge from News & Experts in exchange for my honest review.

The Opposite of Spoiled

The Opposite of Spoiled
Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money
Ron Lieber
Discussing money with children often carries a negative connotation to parents. It is thought of as inappropriate or uncomfortable. But the result is children growing up spoiled with no concept of how money even works. They are selfish because everything has been handed to them and they don't realize the sacrifices made to give them their comforts. They do not value their wealth and do not realize the benefits of generosity. The author has taken a direct approach to explain the downfalls of this line of thought and explains how to explain money to children.

This is one of the most helpful and in-depth book of parenting advice that I've read in a long time. The book is pretty large so it took me a while to get through it, but it was well worth my time. The author is practical and offers tons of stories and helpful advice. It isn't just a book with a great concept. It's a book that parents can actually use to help explain the concepts in a manner that kids will understand.

I received this book free of charge from Goodreads in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

I Hope You Dance

 I Hope You Dance
A July Wedding Story
Robin Lee Hatcher
 Grant can't dance. In fact, he has two left feet. But he's in a wedding that is going to have a lot of dancing. The entire wedding party is taking dancing lessons. But Grant's schedule won't allow him to join them. So he arranges with Skye, the dance instructor, to have private lessons. It will be less embarrassing that way, anyway. What he doesn't expect is to fall for Skye so quickly. 

This was a fun little story. The author used a secondary character that was briefly mentioned in one of her full length novels to write this romance novella. So it was nice to revisit familiar characters. Although the book revisits characters from a series, it is definitely a stand-alone. The author did a great job of creating a realistic story with a sweet romance. Elements of faith were woven throughout the story and helped set the tone for their relationship. The story gives readers a little taste of this author's excellent writing style.

I received this book free of charge from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Bash and the Chocolate Milk Cows

Bash and the Chocolate Milk Cows
Burton W. Cole
Beamer is visiting his cousin Bash on his farm in Ohio. But Bash is a little crazy. He's always coming up with pranks and jokes. Beamer isn't always sure if he's willing to suffer the consequences of those pranks. But when there is a robber on the loose the cousins stick together to help find clues about him and other things they are thinking about.

 As an adult I enjoyed the story, but also appreciated the way the author brought in discussions about the Bible and faith. My son (8 yrs old) enjoyed the funny illustrations, crazy boy adventures, and the entertaining story. This is the first book we've read by this author, but it won't be the last. The author did a great job of getting into the head of a little boy and creating something he would love to read about.

I received this book free of charge from Shelton Interactive in exchange for my honest review.

To The Sea

To The Sea
Callie Grant
God is at the ocean. Beautiful illustrations and a poetic style of writing tell the story of a little boy who spends the day at the beach. The story points out God's gifts in the ocean and sand as the child plays. It ends with a Bible verse to tie the story with the message. Parents will love the message and the beautiful way it is portrayed. Children will love the hard pages in a board book that is just their size. They will also enjoy looking at the pictures and hearing the rhyming flow of the words. It's a wonderful way to introduce God and how there are His blessings in everything. The book would make a great addition to any household with small children.

I received this book free of charge from Shelton Interactive in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Horse in the Wilderness

Horse in the Wilderness
Debbie Eckles
 When Autumn looses her horse in the mountains she's devastated. But her parents new tenant, Brent,  offers his help. Autumn is cautiously optimistic that she'll find her horse and a new friendship with Brent. But it's hard with vandals, secrets, and a missing boy.

The story was entertaining, romantic, heart warming, and filled with references to faith. The story was the meandering type with lots of extra details. There were almost several stories going on at once. The writing style reminded me of a YA book, with the exception of Brent's back ground. Overall, it was a nice story that I enjoyed reading, but could have used some more editing.
I received this book free of charge from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Coloring Flower Mandalas

Coloring Flower Mandalas
30 Hand-Drawn Designs for Mindful Relaxation
Wendy Piersall
Remember the fun and relaxing time spend coloring as a child. It isn't just for children anymore. Drawing and coloring have been proven to reduce stress. If you need a few minutes to relax and let the stress of the day fall away, pick up this book and some pencils. The author has hand-drawn gorgeous flower mandalas that will help with mindful relaxation. 

The flower designs are intricate and beautiful. Each page is unique. I can definitely see why coloring is a stress reliever. The book would be an excellent thing to have on a long plane ride or to use while waiting for appointments. It would also make a wonderful gift for that hard to shop for person in your life.

I received this book free of charge from Ulysses Press in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Worthy Pursuit

A Worthy Pursuit
Karen Witemeyer
Charlotte was given custody of an exceptional little girl, Lily. But her grandfather wants to use her abilities to help him cheat at business. So he's hired the best "retriever" for the job. But he fails to mention to Stone that he doesn't exactly have custody of Lily. So Stone arrives to retrieve Lily and gets the surprise of a lifetime. Now Charlotte and Stone must race against time to find a way to keep Lily safe from her conniving grandfather.

The writing had the author's signature humor and faith woven into the story. Several of the characters were endearing and added depth to the story. The plot wasn't super gripping or suspenseful for me and often didn't seem realistic. I love this author and while I definitely enjoyed the story, this wasn't one of my favorite of her books. I appreciated the way that she dealt with the issues the main characters had. She wrote the gifted children into the story in a sweet and delightful way. Overall, I would say it was worth my time since I enjoyed reading it, but I would have enjoyed it more if it had more of a realistic plot.

I received this book free of charge from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Desperate Measures

Desperate Measures
Port Aster Secrets Book 3
Sandra Orchard
Kate, a botanist researcher, has finally found the plant that tore her family apart. Now she's hiding the mysterious plants in her basement lab while she tries to find out what miracles it supposedly contains. But she's not the only one with questions about the plant. A detective, Tom Parker, is more interested in protecting Kate. But Kate doesn't have time for romance. She wants to find her father and the answers to the mysterious plant.

The book was very well written with lots of intrigue and suspense. It reminded me of an Lynette Eason, Irene Hannon or Dee Henderson story. The characters were relatable and had depth. The plot was detailed and full of twists. This was a plus and negative for me. I haven't read the first two books in the series so was unable to follow a few of the lines occasionally. It felt like I really needed to have read the first two to get an idea of where the author wanted the reader to go. I definitely wouldn't call this book a stand-alone. There were parts of the romance that seemed rushed or forced to me, but since I haven't read the first two books I could have missed something from before. Overall, it was a nice introduction to a new author for me and I'll be checking out the first two books in this series.

I received this book free of charge from Revell Reads in exchange for my honest review.

Summer's List

Summer's List
Anita Higman
Summer has an unselfish heart. She quit college to take care of her parents after their accident. Now she's running her grandmother's book store. After breaking up with her boyfriend she heads over to her grandmothers to talk. But Granny has some news of her own. She's dying and she wants Summer to complete a list for her. Up until now Summer has been there for everyone else. Granny hopes that by completing this list, Summer will realize what she wants to do with her life. The first thing on Summer's list is reconnecting with a childhood friend.

This was an unusual book. The premise is great. A bucket list to find out what you want to be when you grow up, given by a wise elderly lady. Perfect, right?! But the dialogue was so awkward and stiff. So much of the story was so implausible that it felt wrong. The story was sweet and a tad cheesy. The romance, while very rushed, was nice. There wasn't really much of a plot, just lots of dialogue and descriptions. Overall, my impression was okay, but not great.

I received this book free of charge from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Married til Monday

Married til Monday
Chapel Springs Romance
Denise Hunter
It's been three years since Ryan and Abby called it quits. The fighting had just been too much and Abby left. Now she's heading up to Maine for her parents anniversary party and her parents still think she's married to Ryan. Ryan takes advantage of the situation to catch a ride for the 3 day trip. He uses the excuse that he wants to visit her cousin who is dealing with a death in the family. But reality is that he hasn't stopped loving Abby and hopes for the chance to reconnect.

First, I love the cover. It's perfect for the book. But I also loved the story. The author has written some beautiful stories for this series, but I think this one is my favorite. The characters are flawed, but willing to work in their flaws. The message of forgiveness and faith are woven throughout the plot. I am sad to see the series end, but I'm looking forward to seeing what the author comes up with next.

I received this book free of charge from BookLook Blogger in exchange for my honest review.

Fairy Tale Romance Collection

Fairy Tale Romance Collection
Melanie Dickerson
Five different young ladies fall in love during the medieval time period. Each story plays with a fairy tale plot line and includes romance and intrigue. All of the stories are connected by family ties, but can also be read as a stand alone story. Each story also has an element of faith woven throughout.

I really enjoyed reading these stories. They seem to have a YA feel, but that might be because of the fairy tale theme. The stories are more realistic than the originals, but still felt like a romantic fairy tale. There were some implausible and over the top spots, but overall this was a set of super sweet stories that I won't mind sharing with my daughter when she gets a little bit older. I really appreciated the way the author wove the message of faith through each of the stories.

I received this book free of charge from BookLook Blogger in exchange for my honest review.

Obadiah Wilder

The Legend of Obadiah Wilder
The Glorious Defeat of the Dickenson Gang
Cactus Creek Challenge Prequel
Erica Vetsch
Obadiah is a legend in Cactus Creek. Many accounts of his exploits float around. But his good friend at the newspaper gets Obadiah to tell his story and then publishes it. This is that story. His son Ben knows all about the story because he was there. Now Ben is sheriff and his father's shoes are extremely big ones to fill.

I really enjoyed this short story. The author was able to capture my attention quickly. The characters are engaging and fit with the plot. The detail was sufficient to tell the reader what was happening and create a mental picture, but not so much that it overwhelmed the plot. This was my first experience with this reader and I really enjoyed it. The story was written to tie in with a book coming out soon. It definitely made me want to read the next book.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Once Upon a Summertime

Once Upon a Summertime
Follow Your Heart Book 1
Melody Carlson
Anna moved back to her hometown to be with her widowed grandmother. But when a wonderful job opportunity to move to New York comes, she jumps at it. After getting a job at a posh hotel she meets the new manager, Sean, an old acquaintance from her hometown. Sparks fly immediately, but a no dating policy at the hotel puts their jobs in danger if they continue the relationship.

This is one of those light, fluffy, fast reads. It only took me a couple of hours from start to finish. The romance was rushed and I couldn't connect with any of the characters. The plot and secondary characters appeared to only be there to support the hurried romance. I was also surprised because this is supposed to be Christian fiction and the only real aspect of God were the two prayers that Sean prayed for meals at the end of the book. But for some reason, it was such a fun read that I didn't mind. So I'm giving this a much higher rating than if I normally would have because I enjoyed it. And I fully intend to read the next book in the series. 

I received this book free of charge from Revell Reads in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

California Dreamin'

California Dreamin' Collection
Six Contemporary Romance Novellas
Heather Moore, Kaylee Baldwin, Annette Lyon, Jennifer Moore, Shannon Guymon, Sarah Eden
Six authors have come together to create a book with clean, sweet, romantic stories that will make you smile and warm your heart. Each story is completely separate, but the California setting ties them all together. The stories are the perfect length for a quick read when you don't want to get sucked into an entire book. They are light and often humorous, as well as romantic.

This was one of the better anthologies that I've read. All of the authors gave me a good sense of their writing style while creating an entertaining story. The timelines didn't feel rushed or lacking. There were some definite favorites, but I enjoyed all of them. I will be checking out several of these authors to read their full length novels.

I received this book free of charge from Inspired Kathy in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Attractive Nuisances

Attractive Nuisances
Legally in Love Book 1
Jennifer Griffith
 Camilla loves her job as a prosecutor. She isn't so crazy about her boss, especially when he hires a rash, irresponsible guy named Zane Holyoake. Zane doesn't seem to take anything seriously. He wins cases by flirting with the jury and sweet talking them. Camilla spends hours and hours working on her cases to make them air tight, only to have Zane tell a childhood story and win everyone over. But there is still that tiny bit of charm that she just can't shake when she's with him, that has her so worried.

The two characters are the definition of opposites attracting. The author did a great job of setting up the plot to fit the romantic slant of the story. The characters were ones that the reader will love or love to hate. I enjoyed the legal details that were included in the story. It added dimension to the romance side and helped to create depth and interest. Personality conflicts had me annoyed with the male character, but he is one that I know many of my fellow reader friends will love.

I received this book free of charge from Inspired Kathy in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Fabulous Me

Fabulous Me, Piper Lee And The Peanut Butter Itch
Tolya L. Thompson
Piper knows that she's allergic to peanuts. But the yummy looking peanut butter sitting on the counter isn't the same. So surely she can have some, right? But when Piper begins to itch and look funny she yells for help. Mom gives her a shot and takes her to the emergency room. Now Piper knows that anything made with peanuts isn't good for her.

The bright, colorful illustrations fill the entire page and grab the children's attention immediately. The rhyming words tell the story in a fun and memorable way. While the book is geared towards children with allergies, it is also a great resource for classrooms and parents wanting their children to be aware of the consequences of trying things you shouldn't. Neither of my children have a peanut allergy, but both of them thoroughly enjoyed the book and the story prompted a discussion about allergies and how to notice the signs of someone needing help. The page for parents is informative and helpful. And the author has a fun contest going on for children on the very last page. I would recommend this book for schools, daycare centers, and parents.

I received this book free of charge from Direct Contact in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Seaside Surprises

Seaside Surprises
Stacy Claflin
Tiffany is on the run from an abusive husband. But when she stops in a small seaside tourist town for the night she meets a guy that just might make her stay. It certainly helps her decision when the car won't start the next morning. The problem is, she's still in trouble and Jake only knows her as Elena. If she can ever find a safe place, she wants to settle down and find her forever family.

The story had some deep and serious topics, but the author was able to keep it from being too dark by infusing sweet and romantic elements. The characters were flawed, but endearing. It's a clean romance with just a little bit of violence at the end. The author brought several family members into the story and left several openings for the next few books in the series. It will be interesting to see where she goes with them.

I received this book free of charge from Inspired Kathy in exchange for my honest review.

Group Hug

The No-Homework Women's Bible Study: Group Hug
Christine Tate
Many women complain about lack of time and busy schedules. So the author has put together a small and inclusive Bible study that women can use in a small group setting to get to know each other and the Lord without the stress of homework and lots of reading beforehand. Each chapter consists of an icebreaker, lesson, commentary, discussion questions, and the personal challenges. The lesson is the only section that has scripture.

The book is a lot smaller than I'd anticipated. There really isn't any additional reading required.  This study would work well for someone who is a bit intimidated about starting a small group study since the lessons are outlined and structured. It would appeal to someone who doesn't want something that is in-depth or heavy or someone that is mixing denominations in their group.

I received this book free of charge from BookCrash in exchange for my honest review.

Living in Tandem

Living in Tandem
Working Together on a Forever Marriage
Dave and Sue Lunde
Marriage is like riding a tandem bike. It requires both parties to be fully invested and both to be working equally to get the bike moving in the correct direction. The authors purchased just such a bike years ago and used the bike to draw parallel illustrations about marriage and how working together fortifies a forever relationship. The chapters (or concepts) begin with a Bible verse and then continue with the author's thoughts on the text and the lessons they drew from riding together. They intersperse personal stories with their thoughts to make the book seem more relatable. 

The book was informative and I wasn't surprised to read that they taught marriage classes. They covered a wide range of topics that all couples just starting out or needing a refresher course would benefit from reading. The book would also make a good small group study for married couples. So it would have been nice to see some discussion questions in the back. But even without the questions I would recommend this for newly married couples or small groups who want to learn more about working together.

I received this book free of charge from BookClub Network in exchange for my review.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Fatal Trauma

Fatal Trauma
Richard L. Mabry, M.D.
Dr. Mark Baker walks into the hall at the hospital to see his girlfriend Kelly being held at gunpoint. The gunman has taken the nurse hostage in hopes she will find him a doctor who can help his brother who has been shot. What follows is a series of events that neither Mark or Kelly saw coming. People are dying all around them. Their very lives are in danger and neither one can afford a misstep.

This was my first book by this author and it won't be my last. The suspense is great, but I also liked the elements of faith and the tiny bit of romance that was thrown in. I would have preferred a little more in the romance department. The relationship between the couple seemed faint and one dimensional. But this didn't stop my enjoyment of the book. The medical jargon is spot on, but wasn't overwhelming or too confusing for the non-medical person. The author writes flawed, but likeable characters. The clues are often misleading so I didn't suspect the final ending. It was well done and definitely made me want to read another one.

I received this book free of charge from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, June 1, 2015

How to Love Your Neighbor

How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird
Amy Lively
How often do we, as Christians, work to get our friends and family into the church, but completely ignore our neighbors. They are the ones that live the closest to us and yet we might not even know their names. The author outlines steps to getting to know our neighbors in a non-threatening way. She begins with the steps on how to invite them over for coffee and then to ease into a neighborhood Bible study. But she also outlines so much more. Each chapter takes a different aspect of "being a neighbor" and breaks it down. She uses lots of scripture and ends each chapter with steps the reader can take to put the chapter into action.

The book was well written. The chapters are outlined well and are easy to implement. I liked the questions as the end of each chapter. I'll be honest, I had a hard time starting this book. The first couple of chapters didn't grab me and I wanted to quit. I thought the only idea was to have a Bible study in my home and I'm not at that place yet. But once I got through the first couple of chapters I really got into the book and was pleasantly surprised. This is a book for any woman who wants to reach out to those around her. It has practical advice and amusing stories that entertain while they teach. So even if you don't have neighbors who live close enough to visit, you can still benefit from the thoughts in this book. 

I received this book free of charge from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

Love's Rescue

Love's Rescue
Keys of Promise Book 1
Christine Johnson
Elizabeth is finally on her way home to Key West. She's been gone for four very long years. But news of her mother's death prompts her to return home and be with her remaining family members. She also hopes to see the man she's secretly loved this entire time. But her father doesn't approve of the wrecker, Rourke O'Malley, and puts up every stumbling block up available. Elizabeth will need to learn to step outside of her comfort zone and have an unselfish heart if she is to come out with her family and heart intact.

Overall this was a fun story to read and I finished very quickly. The prologue was a great start to the book. But after that first part, I had a hard time connecting with the characters. The plot wasn't very fluid for me and I felt confused at several points because details were lacking or conflicted. The romance was weak and so I had a hard time putting the two main characters together. My favorite characters were the brother and the main male character, Rourke. The ending was sweet. I will probably read the second book since the brother was my favorite character and I hope to read more about him.

I received this book free of charge from Revell Reads in exchange for my honest review.